Sunday, April 7, 2019

Busy behind the scenes

It's been a very busy few months for me. I needed to travel to California several times for family medical issues, so I'm really behind on my blogging. But there's good news. First and most importantly, my relative is doing so much better. Hooray! 

Secondly, I've actually been able to get to quite a bit of quilting in the times between trips. In fact, I've finished several quilts. How did that happen? In this post I reveal my sneaky techniques for fast finishes.

UFOs for Donating

Nothing speeds a quilt finish along like having 90% of the flimsy already finished and sitting in the closet. These first two quilts have been at that almost done stage for months. 

This one is Wonky Diamonds, made with alternating multicolor novelties and neutral strings. I pieced them on paper foundations, just to see if I liked that technique. Turns out, I don't. So I stopped with just these few blocks and bordered them up with a fun yellow zebra print given to me by a guild friend. 

The back used up the rest of the zebras and this zippy apple and pear fabric. This is a donation to Wrap A Smile, so it's only about 40"x50". Using my go-to stipple, I can quilt that size piece in about 2 hours. Binding by machine takes 45 minutes or so.

Lurid Cats were one of my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks last year. I stitched two cats per month, and ended up with two 9 block tops. Simple black sashing was all these crazy cats needed to shine.

The backing is from my seemingly endless supply of soft yellow plaid, a gift from Sean's aunt. Sean chose the red binding. I often ask him for color advice when I'm stumped. 

For the quilting on this one, I did a "hook/swirl" motif using rainbow variegated thread. This design is fast becoming a favorite with its combination of curves and points.

And here's a gratituous boaty glamour shot. Just because.

I don't think I've ever shared them before, but these kimono blocks were well aged in the orphan block stash. I made them from Asian-inspired fabrics, sewing great guns until I had an even dozen. And then I ran out of steam. They were a bit fiddly and the thought of making a dozen more just wasn't appealing.

So I combined them with a nicely designed geisha panel and added some coin-style columns to get a pleasing quilt width. The backing is bright white with tiny purple flowers. More hook/swirl in pale lavender thread. Don't you just love it when you can use pretty threads?

I'm not certain where this one will end up. Lavender Geisha is too busy sipping her tea to whisper in my ear about where she wants to go. Perhaps she'll go to Happy Chemo, a Hands2Help charity. We'll see.

UFOs for Gifting

These two quilts were made for my "nieces," who are the daughters of one of my oldest and dearest friends. Both young ladies are finishing up college degrees this spring, one receiving her Bachelors and the other a Masters.

The quilt on the right, for J, has been a work in progress for several years. The circles were one of my first forays into improv piecing. I purchased math and science themed fabrics from a lady on eBay who makes men's ties, so the scraps were all oddly shaped triangles.

After fermenting in my stash for a looooong time, I pieced the circles into a gray linen/cotton blend. Burgundy and cream striped sashing and nine patch cornerstones hold the circles together. I quilted free form offset circles in the patchwork, and simple stippling in the background.

The backing fabric is a nice big chunk of this cream with apples. J is getting her Masters in education, so this quilt is Apples for the Math Teacher!

J's sister L received a bright, happy quilt made from the free pattern called Noteworthy Labyrinth on Moda Bakeshop. I finished the flimsy back in June of 2018. With so much movement and color in the top, I kept the quilting super simple. A big stipple using rainbow variegated thread was quick and easy. Or maybe it was hook/swirl? Now I've forgotten, and I somehow managed to give L's Labyrinth away without taking any finished photos, alas.

Small and scrappy

Tiny quilts for tiny babies sure do work up fast, don't they? This quilt is a baby gift for friends who are expecting in late April. Their nursery colors are grey and white, with touches of light green. I knew I wanted to do something with my grey string scraps, and found this free pattern called Birds, Bees and Butterfly Strands.

The piecing was very fast, and the 40" square quilt came together quickly. I used this modern Blueberry Park grey fabric as the back and binding. It was a gift from Rose and I'm happy to find the perfect use for it.

Butterfly Strands is quilted in floppy feathers in pale green thread for soft, snuggly texture. 

Just the Flimsies, Ma'am

You know what makes a quilt finish up really, really, REALLY fast? Not quilting it! These next two pieces, which are both unquilted tops, are some of my Hands2Help Charity Challenge finishes. This one features little panels that look like old fashioned flower seed packets. The panels were given to me by Kathleen, one of my online guild friends. A little bordering of the panels, a few hour glass blocks, a bit of checkerboarding, and Dreaming of Spring was finished.

Sweet and Sour is made with some of my stash of fun fruit fabric with citrus-y green and orange accents. I modified a free pattern called Framed Rectangles so the blocks would be 10"x14". Both flimsies will be donated to Victoria's Quilts, which asks for 50"x70" quilt tops only. This size block makes for an easy 5x5 layout and allows the large scale fruit designs to really take center stage!

Lotto Blocks and Panels

Finally, these last two little quilts were so fun and fast to make. Apologies for strange shadows in the photos! Figuring out where to take pictures so that the sun and wind direction are kinda sorta correct has been a real challenge lately.

I sewed a grand total of about 12 seams in this quilt. The tropical birds in the lower left corner are a panel about 24"x36". The six blocks were all made by members of the Sunshine Online quilt guild, as part of their monthly block lotto. I've won the lotto three times now, so I have a nice mix of blocks to choose from.

This sweet little applique butterfly is my favorite!

All I had to do was choose some blocks that played nicely with the panel, and pick a sashing color and coordinating backing. A little stippling, a little binding, and boom! Lotto Birds is ready for Wrap A Smile.

I had so much fun, I couldn't stop at just one. Check out this darling kitty panel! Happy cats in turquoise, yellow, hot pink, black and grey. 

Plunging into the lotto block stack, I pulled out eight fun squares to surround the cats. Turquoise sashing and hot pink binding added some extra zing. Lotto Cats made me smile every time I worked on it.

For the back, I used this nautical fabric with all kinds of different sail and power boats. There's even submarines with little yellow propellers. So. Stinking. Cute. Our resident boat cat, Angel, confirms that the shippy fabric works just fine with the felines on the front.

Whew! Did you make it all the way to the end of this looooooong post? Do you have a favorite of this bunch? Leave me a comment and let me know and thanks for sticking with me while I finally got all these quilts documented. 


  1. Wow, that is some FINE scrappy quilting there, Louise! I’m blown away at how much you get done. Glad to hear your relative is doing better. Now, I’m going back to study those quilts again - lots of great ideas and eye candy!!

  2. I am still amazed by your machine quilting and wow what a lot of quilts you've done. I'm glad to see you used the Blueberry Park for backing. I liked the idea of combining the kimono blocks with the Geisha panel so I think this one is my favorite but the cat print is awfully cute. Sea sewing is the best.

  3. Oh my goodness, you have been BUSY!!! That geisha panel with the pieced kimono blocks is adorable! Definitely my favorite in this batch but all your kitty cat quilts made me smile too. Lotto cat particularly. So fun seeing what you make, Louise. You really do whip them out!

  4. I have missed your posts and hoping that the family medical situation would resolve well. Love the lurid cats and panel quilt settings especially.

  5. Glad to hear you relative is doing better. Your quilts are wonderful. I love what you did with the Geisha and Kimonos. Look at all the gifts you have made! WOW. Each one is lovely!

  6. I had noticed you hadn't been posting much, but I never thought it was because you weren't MAKING anything! This bunch is wonderful! I see that several others like the Geisha quilt and I agree that it is fabulous, 12 kimonos was the perfect number. You are so creative with the way you pull all these things together.

  7. Wow Louise, how to pick a fabric out of all this scrappy goodness. I like the butterfly technique and I've bookmarked that page but that Cat Panel at the end really has me in stitches.

  8. What a fun quilt show you just gave us! My favorite would have to be the cats (of course) - anything with cats is a win-win for me. Guess I'll just start making blocks and let the fabric fly. What a great inspiration this blog was for me today. Smooth sailing (and sewing) to you.

  9. have been gone a lot, but so much done! I love the variety and how you always have something hiding in the stash. Your take on the circles from triangles....very cool. Love the wings technique...I did a baby quilt that way too.

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  11. So much eye candy to start my morning! Have to vote for Kimonos as my favorite, but Sweet and Sour is a great name.....colors remind me of the Thai dipping sauce I had with crab rangoons the other evening. You rock, Louise!! And thanks for your generosity to Wrap-A-Smile.

  12. The diamond strings are my first go to (without the foundation piecing though) and the Geisha and her tea are number two. They're all wonderful and I really like the way you incorporate a panel with a few blocks to make the donation quilts fun and totally not boring. Kudos to you for getting all this done and HOORAY that your family member is doing better.

  13. I’m thrilled to hear that health has returned and that life is on an even keel for you. (Couldn’t resist a nautical phrase.) I am stunned by how much you’ve made, Louise! And, as always, by how you are able to combine just the right bits from your diverse collection of fabric and blocks to make a unique, cohesive quilt. I’m not sure it’s fair to the quilts to pick a favorite, but if I must, I pick the Asian inspired one because I think the layout is so classy. But I also like the cats in the panel of that last top because they just make me laugh! It was good to see you back with a post.

  14. Yes, you have been busy! Wow! I really like all of your quilts - hard to choose a favorite! The string quilt is great - now you just have to tell me why you didn't like piecing the strings on paper.:) I also like the little quilts you made with a panel and the Block Lotto blocks. What a great idea! Glad to hear your family member is doing better. That is always such a relief!

  15. well that's just like attending a trunk show... what a bevy of gorgeous quilts. I am always so impressed with your made up quilts from what you find in the boat. Fabulous.... The improv circles is genius - but I really love the whole lot of them...

    Glad to hear the relative is doing well..... I wonder how many quilts you can make without the trips now???? haha


  16. I love the cat panel with the boat fabric on back! Well, I love them all, but that one caught my eye. Great job, Louise!!! And I'm glad to hear your family member is feeling better now.

  17. That is a lot of quilting that went on! I love the geisha panel asa solution for not wanting to make more blocks. I do have to put my nose to the grindstone and quilt a few smaller quilts. I can’t believe how much you have in this one blog entry. You are amazing.

  18. What an impressive number of finished quilts. So very cool. I like how you used the panels with orphan blocks. I've got a couple of panels that might work that way. I'll have to take a look at what I can put with them. Thanks for the inspiration. Glad to hear our relative is doing better. Are you out at sea now or docked somewhere fabulous.

  19. Wow, you are productive even though you've been away. Hope all is on the uphill now with your family. I think my favorite might be the fruity quilt, probably because I have many of the same fabrics that I've been working on using up.

  20. You are amaaazing, Louise. Each one of those quilts is special, but I do like the math and science one, lurid cats and the geisha.

  21. I am just totally amazed Louise at how much you have achieved in the midst of travelling to take care of a poorly family member. So pleased to read that your relative is doing well now.
    Favourites - string pieced diamonds I love, Lurid Cats is a delight and your kimono blocks are little stunners, the idea of adding the geisha panel was definitely an inspired one! Congratulations!! Bet Angel is pleased to have you back!

  22. Wow, you've been super productive! Lucky nieces to get hand made quilts from you; I'm sure they'll treasure them. Glad your relative is doing better and you're back to your usual routine.

  23. Hard to choose a favorite from all your playful, colorful quilts.. but I do like that circles one you gave to your Bonus niece.

    You are an inspiration!

  24. Wow!! Louise, you really excell at making gorgeous quilt tops with orphan blocks. My very favorite is the Lavendar Geisha - that quilt is absolutely beautiful. I'm sure your nieces were tickled to get their gifts. I am sorry your family member in California had such a hard time, and I hope things are better for them and you now.

  25. Wow, so many creative ideas for tackling scraps, Lotto blocks and panels and the fact that you do it all on a boat is amazing. I have to dig out some of the panels and try your technique, although I don't have Lotto blocks to add to them and my orphan blocks never seem to go with anything. Glad the family health issues have calmed done, so you can get back to work!

  26. Oh my gosh Louise. These are wonderful projects - favorites??? Hmm, love the grey and green baby quilt with the butterflies. Also the geisha blocks are so fun. But mostly I love all of them. Panels are a challenge to use sometimes but I like them - they can be so pretty - you have done a great job of creating quilts with them. Each one is so unique.

  27. You have been busy! It's hard to pick a favorite, but I'm leaning towards your Geisha finish. It's very elegant. But all your quilts ended up lovely and are going to good homes. Hope you get back to more routine stitching during second quarter. Glad to hear your family member is on the mend.

  28. Wowzers! You are a dynamo! If you really made me pick a favorite, it would have to be the lurid cats, but it's a tough choice!

  29. Goodness, you have been BUSY!!! Great quilts all around. I'm not sure I could choose a favorite!

  30. Wow! Beauty overload! I think it's your sewing studio location that's responsible....

  31. I feel so lucky that Lavender Geisha came to my house to live with me. Each one of the kimonos is a treasure to me. She will be well-used. To all of you that read this blog and make comments I am one of the places where your quilts end up - and are loved.


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